Update on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)


Since the last notice provided by the Dental Council of NSW on 22 April 2020, developments have continued to evolve relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is pleasing to report that the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has now approved the move from Level 2 to Level 1 dental service restrictions, from 8 May 2020, as outlined in the Australian Dental Association’s Managing COVID-19 Guidelines.

Level 1 restrictions permit all dental treatments using standard precautions for people who do not meet epidemiological or clinical risk factors for COVID-19 infection transmission.  Non-urgent treatment for people who do meet epidemiological or clinical symptom criteria for COVID-19 risk should be deferred. The Council again recommends that dental practitioners access the guidelines, and other relevant information, via the link provided above.

You will also be aware that the NSW Government has been providing important updates on outbreaks/clusters and local areas deemed to be at higher risk.  This advice should continue to inform your risk assessment protocols when seeing patients.

May I take this opportunity to advise practitioners of the importance of ensuring that appropriate pre-screening continues to occur for all patients.  This includes whether the patient has:

- been overseas in the last two weeks

- had contact with a known/suspected COVID-19 case in the last two weeks 

- resided in or visited a known high-risk area with a cluster of cases

- recently tested for COVID-19

- demonstrated the following symptoms:

          o   fever

          o   a cough

          o   sore throat

          o   shortness of breath

          o   fatigue

          o   other respiratory symptoms

          o   recent loss of smell/taste

·         presence of comorbidities.

Further information on appropriate pre-screening of patients can be found on the NSW Health and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care websites.

Adherence to other government recommendations that are currently in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 must also continue. This includes social distancing measures and hand hygiene principles, as applicable in both clinical and non-clinical areas, such as waiting rooms and reception areas. Further information relating to these recommendations is available via the Australian Government Department of Health and NSW Health websites.

And finally, a reminder of the importance of continuing to meet your obligations relating to infection control, as set out in the Dental Board of Australia’s Guidelines on infection control.  As you will be aware, dental practitioners must practise in a way that maintains and enhances public health and safety by ensuring that the risk of the spread of infectious diseases is prevented or minimised.

On behalf of the Council, I would again like to thank you for your cooperation in adhering to the dental service restrictions that have been in place during this difficult period.  Your adherence to Level 1 restrictions, from 8 May 2020, will continue to assist in ensuring everyone’s safety.